Policy

Covid-19: Budget documents will not be printed this year

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 21, 2021

FILE PHOTO: Security personnel keeping vigil, as budget papers are being brought to the Parliament House   -  The Hindu

Members of Parliament will get an e-version of the documents

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman last month promised ‘Budget like never before’ and now the first indication is already out here. Budget documents will not be printed this year.

A Finance Ministry official confirmed this development. Not much effort is required to guess the reason, it is the pandemic. As good number of people are required to stay together for weeks inside the dedicated press, housed in the North Block at Raisina Hill, New Delhi. This press and boarding-lodging area is a closed one and thus there will always be fear of spread of Covid.

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The matter does not end just with printing. In a normal situation, there will be workers for loading the documents on specially-guarded trucks to be taken to Parliament and then to other parts of country. These documents are packed first in special cloth bags and then these are bundled in special green colour sacks, taken to the Parliament House where they will be unloaded, security checked and then taken to counters for distribution among members. Copies are also sent to various ministries and departments.

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A set of budget papers has 14 documents with various colour codes. Budget speech document has its own design like last year it was white with saffron band on top and green band at bottom. However, some of them have permanently allotted colours like the cover of explanatory memorandum is always dark pink. Finance Bill will always be white.

All these will not happen this year and around 750 members of Parliament will get an e-version of the documents. Distribution of physical copies was already stopped for media. One can access the budget speech and related documents on www.Indiabudget.gov.in or www.indiabudget.nic.in as soon as budget speech is over.

The traditional Halwa ceremony is also unlikely to take place this year. This ceremony, attended by all involved in budget-making, marks the beginning of printing. Once printing starts, while printing staffers stay inside the press till the presentation of budget, only a select group of highly ranked officials are allowed to visit the press multiple times and that too on the basis of special identity card. The entire facility, loading-unloading and transportation is manned by special security force.

Published on January 11, 2021

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